Being told you are ready to go up on en pointe is possibly one of the most exciting times of a ballet dancer’s life. You are finally dancing with the big girls and suddenly feel like a professional, and so you should, it takes a lot of hard work to get your body ready to go en pointe. It’s not just your feet that need to be strong but your ankles, abdominal muscles, just about every muscle in your leg and your mind.
However, as exciting as pointe work seems, it is important that your body IS ready and you are under the watchful eye of your dance teacher. Here are a few points to think about when going en pointe.
1. Knowing your ready – Your dance teacher should tell you when you are ready to go en pointe, but i see so many young girls in pointe shoes before they are ready, so here are a few things to make sure your teacher is looking for:
Firstly you should be at least 11 years of age, any younger than this and you can seriously damage your feet not matter how strong they are. Secondly you should be able to rise high up onto demi-pointe with your weight equally distributed over your toes and no sickling in the ankle.
2. It isn’t as easy and pain-free as it looks – You are going to stand on your toes, it isn’t going to feel comfortable. When getting pointe shoes fitted make sure you try on several pairs to make sure you find a comfotable pair for you. This will allow you to work harder an dbuild up your strength and technique allowing you to advance.
Remember, once you are en pointe in class always have some plasters to hand. Blisters and sores are common and you will get them, making sure they are cushioned and protected will allow you to keep dancing without those blisters rubbing.
3. Allow plenty of time for your pointe shoe fitting – Pointe shoe fittings can be very unpredictable. Usually a fitting will take around an hour, however with your first fitting this could become considerably longer to ensure you choose the right shoe. Don’t try and get fitted in between other appointments you may have as you may spend two or more hours getting fitted.
4. Don’t buy pointe shoes online – Especially not your first pair! Many dance teachers would strongly advise against buying your pointe shoes online full stop, this is because every shoes is different and while you are younger your feet will be growing. It also means that you will not be able to try them on and see how they feel, they may arrive and be extremely uncomfortable that you can’t wear them, don’t pointe shoes do not come cheap.
5. Be patient – Some of your class mate may pick up moves quicker than other, you may even be one of these people! But if you are learning slower than others don’t worry, you will get there in the end, it’s important to listen to your teacher and only attempt new things once you are told you are ready.